Roosters Nutted-again

05/04/2014

Grant Trouville Action Photographic
Grant Trouville Action Photographic

Roosters Nutted Again

There no savage penalty count in this match but the defending premiers must have felt deju vu (all over again LOL). The 9-8 loss had many of the same ingredients of last week’s home loss to Manly. So much effort and so close to a win.

Again it was a slippery, wet night match versus a team prepared to work just as hard for victory. In fact they were prepared to add some smarts to all that hard work just like the Eagles used to earn their victory.

Again the Roosters played to the game plan they utilised in every match of 2013 and so far in 2014 – run hard, retain possession, kick long, tackle hard, force errors and score tries from close range after wearing them down physically. Pressure.

Again the Dogs worked out a way to avoid the squeeze, pressure sets despite the Roosters very oftencompleting the first half of those percentage play criteria of the “winning mantra” . But just like last week the champs could not contain the Dogs in their own half; well not enough to force those pressure errors anyway; certainly not enough to dominate and turn pressure into points.

As Manly used some short passing flurries and occasionally deep standing series of long balls to elude that field possession trap so too did Canterbury particularly to their left with Josh Morris really powering onto those 3-pass-plays as well as some dummy half carries with passes and offloads to make some metres through the middle.

They mixed it up to gain dominance rather than after they gained it.

Phil Gould as usual made a smart comment about the conditions of the night making it almost impossible “to get the ball around them”.  Whilst accurate that was proven to be not completely impossible when the Dogs handling and timing was impeccable for Stanley’s try in the corner through 5 sets of hands at pace.

On many other occasions though I thought the Dogs knew exactly  what they were doing when they found that yardage on the edge without trying to go around them totally for a break or try. They just wanted to make metres and shift the play the ball so that the Roosters had to recover and re-shuffle their D line.

This often led to enough time and space to string some more pass plays together back to back which gained more “softer metres “ and took some more petrol out of the Roosters’ tanks.

Oh yeah and got them an easier kick to get them up the other end. Again. And again.

In the end the Roosters still had time to win it as they did in so many close games last season and as they did a few weeks back in Brisbane. They had 4 sets after Reynolds kicked the field goal.

The Dogs had five. Three of those started from deep in their own half. The Dogs were now playing it tight with lots of 1 pass plays and ultimately a couple of dummy half runs.

This was too easy for the Dogs. The damage was already done by all of that smart attacking footy earlier in the match to pull the energy out of the Roosters. From the kick-off set post the field goal the Dogs made 65 metres “on the ground”, as they say in coach-speak. That’s without the metres off a kick at the end of the power runs on previous 5 plays!

That is dreadful stat when the chips are down.

The Roosters at their best last season would have forced a pressured inaccurate kick from their opponents with in their 40! Of those five sets to finish the match the Dogs not only made no errors but they finished plays  in their own half only 7 times and in Roosters half 26!

The tri-colours should not be panicking as they could easily have won this match. If Daniel Tupou had taken his chances they could have snuck home. But losses always make teams assess more closely what needs to be done about improving performance. Rather than looking at penalties and errors or field position or missed chances, which there certainly were, there was one positive passage of play that stood out for me. It may trigger something for them to aim for.

It shows up clearly on those pass stats – the only time in the past two weeks where the defending premiers found more than 2 or more passes on a play for 3 consecutive plays.

You guessed it they scored their only try in 160 minutes of footy! It might have much more than tries in it for them if they see what it’s done for their opponents in those two matches.

PS if you like your footy tight and tough this was a good one! Every play was hard fought.